motivation, Life

Front Porch Sittin’

We got a little rain today. The first little bit in a couple weeks. It was a welcome sight as it cooled the temps off some and rinsed all the dust off my car. Bear and I sat outside on the porch watching the rain fall. He would dart out into it and run just as fast back under the cover of the porch. Me? I stayed under the cover, not willing to get wet.

And that’s basically how I’ve been living life for the past 40-something years. Safe on the porch. Dry. Boring. I like the sound of adventure, but I never get off the porch. I like watching the rain fall, but I don’t want to get wet. Why leave the comfort of my lawn chair?

Because life starts at the end of your comfort zone. -Neale Donald Walsch

Recently, I was talking to a couple friends about life. One is my age and the other is 17. Our perspectives are very different. We adults look back at life and wish we had done some stuff differently. The 17 year-old looks forward, with plans and goals and dreams of what she wants out of life. Are we wrong? Is she naive? No. Neither of those is true. 

My old friend mentioned something about picking your adventure and I immediately thought about those “choose your adventure” books we used to check out at the library when we were kids. You read a bit and then came to a choice. “If you choose to go out in the rain, go to page 21.” “If you choose to turn around and go back in the house, turn to page 35.” “If you choose to sit on the porch and watch it rain, the end. You’re done. Life has passed you by.”

I loved those books. If you made the wrong choice and your character ended up dead, you just went back to the page with the choices and chose another page. No harm, no foul. You made a mistake the first time, but it’s erased and you can make another choice and pretend that the other one never happened. That’s cheating, right? But wouldn’t life be so much better if it happened that way?

Maybe. But maybe not. If you could go back and erase all the mistakes you ever made, would you? I doubt it. Did they cause hurt and suffering? Undoubtedly so. Did you learn from them? Most of us did. The only things I would go back and change were the things I didn’t do. The places I didn’t go. The chances I didn’t take. Except for skydiving…I still probably wouldn’t go skydiving.


Are You in There?

I am the world’s worst daydreamer. No, really, that’s me. I can easily spend time just daydreaming about anything. Seriously, give me a topic and I can daydream about it for hours. Maybe even days if I don’t have to get up and go to work the next day. I think that’s why I love to read fiction…why I’ve always loved to read fiction…so much. It gives me permission to daydream. There is nothing like curling up with a good book and immersing yourself into the story. My mind is like a stream that flows on and on sometimes.

“The mind is like a river. The thoughts are like the various droplets of water.”
-A. G. Mohan

But in all that daydreaming, there’s a problem. I don’t like to admit it. I don’t want to give up my daydreaming. I don’t want to give up reading fiction. I certainly would like to write a fiction novel someday. So what’s the problem? Sometimes I get so caught up in daydreaming, that I miss stuff.

Important stuff. Real life stuff. I get so caught up in the daydream that I miss the reality that is going on around me. I’m there, but I’m not really present. My body is occupying space, but my brain is off in space. Emotionally I am somewhere else. Hello, are you in there? That’s a problem.

I miss some pretty awesome stories when I am not paying attention.

I miss some pretty deep connections when I am not being intentional about being present.

And because I want to experience life and deep connections, I decided to figure out how to be more present.

“I shall be miserable if I have not an excellent library.” -Jane Austen

I started reading a new book today called “Present Over Perfect” by Shauna Niequist. A question posed in the book is, “If someone gave you a completely blank calendar and a bank account with as much money as you wanted in it, what would you do?”

I’m pondering that. Would I retire? Would I travel? Would I buy everything I ever thought I wanted? Would I give all kinds of crazy money away? I think a little bit of all of that. I’d do whatever I wanted. I’d go wherever my heart took me. I think I would build a house, but maybe just get a class A (or a truck and a big 5th wheel) and travel to all the places and see all the things and take all the pictures and read all the books. And write a book or two. I’d blog about all of my travels for sure. 

Anyone know where this hammock is located?

I’m getting away from the reason I picked up the book in the first place, though. Daydreaming again.

The book is about ditching the frantic and embracing the simple life. My life isn’t that frantic. I’ve been practicing simplifying for a while, but I do struggle with being present.

Keeping my head where my feet are is a work in progress.

As my friend expresses it, “keeping my head where my feet are.” I struggle with that. I daydream. I analyze. I overthink. I make lists in my head of things I need to do. Then I make more lists in my head of things I forgot to do, only to forget again. I’ve tried writing them down. I’ve tried putting reminders on my phone. None of those things help if my feet don’t go where my head is. 

So how does a person practice being more present? No clue, but that is the journey I am on this summer. 


Life, motivation, photography

A Walk in the Rain

It’s been raining here a lot lately. It’s cold for mid-May. And muddy. It’s been hard to plan camping trips on the weekends. It’s been nearly impossible to do any outside projects. And since I’m a preschool teacher, I have an even greater reason for disliking rain–inside recess. Ever tried keeping a bunch of 3, 4, and 5 year-olds contained in a classroom for hours? It’s not fun.

The end of this very challenging school year is in sight, and I’m tired. So despite the rain yesterday, I took a walk. I even had a couple furry companions go with me. We had no destination. We didn’t go anywhere special. We just walked up the driveway, trying to stay out of the mud and wet grass (I dislike wet socks and shoes).

I noticed this flower on my walk and had to take a picture. It reminded me that despite the consequences or circumstances we find ourselves surrounded by, we can rise up, square our shoulders, and stand tall.

Did you hear me? Rise up. No one can hold you down without your permission. No one can keep you down without your permission. Rise up and stand tall, whatever your circumstances. You got this.

It might be raining right now, but take a walk anyway. Let the rain wash away all the mud and the gunk. Let it refresh your soul.

🌼 Sondra


Living Your Best Life

Copper is living his best life

Living Your Best Life.

What does that mean? Living your best life? What does that entail? What do you need to have in order to live your best life? A new house? A lot of money in the bank? A spouse and 2.5 children? Do you need to be at the top of your career to enjoy your best life? Do you need to be retired? Sunbathing on a private island? Traveling and full-time RV living? All of those things sound wonderful, but not everyone aspires to them. What does your best life look like?

And how do you know? That’s my big question. How do you know that you are living your best life? You have a picture of what you think it is, but what if you get there, and it’s not what you thought it was going to be? Your new house has a house payment you can’t afford. Your bank account is full, but your heart isn’t. Your spouse and your children think you nag too much. Your career doesn’t afford you much time for anything else. Retirement is boring. Your private island is lonely. Your RV finds you missing community. 

Too much of one thing can literally be too much. For me,  living your best life means living a balanced life. You have enough, but not too much. You have a house, but you aren’t house poor. You have a little emergency fund, but not enough that everyone is asking you to give them money. You have a spouse and 2 (adult) children who still love you enough to put up with you. You have a career, but are content to let the younger generation claw their way to the top. You aren’t retired, but you get summers off (or vacation time). No private island, but you have a little corner of the world that is all yours. You’re not a full-time RV status yet, but that pop-up camper is ready to go for the first camping trip of the year in a couple weeks. That’s what my best life looks like.

Do I wish that I didn’t have to get up and go to work on Mondays? Absolutely. Am I counting down the days until summer break? You bet I am. Do I dream about winning the lottery and quitting my job to take up traveling? Some days more than others. But the truth is, toward the end of summer break I am wishing for that familiar routine and my work people. My best life is one filled with all the things I love– my faith, my family, teaching, camping, reading, photography, etc. And there is room for so much more as I go! My best life is a full life with room for new people, things, and animals (always room for more cuddly animals). My best life is a balanced life with just enough of everything.


Productively Unproductive

I had ice cream for dinner tonight. Yes, I did. Not a bowl of ice cream after dinner. Not a little bit of ice cream with my dinner. I had a BIG bowl of peanut butter cup ice cream FOR dinner tonight. It’s been that kind of week.

But it’s the beginning of a three-day weekend for me. I don’t foresee having ice cream for dinner for at least another three days. What I do see in my near future is a lot of rest and relaxation, and also a little work around the farm. The weather will be turning colder soon and there are a few things I need to do to prepare for it. My chickens need a fresh layer of bedding put down in their coop. The garden is done and needs a layer of mulch put down. There are walnuts all over my yard that I am not picking up, even though I should. And the house needs some more de-cluttering. Always more de-cluttering. How do we end up with so much junk?

But that’s a post for another day.

What I am going to try to focus on this weekend while the husband is working and I’m home with the cat is self-care. Self-care so the next time I have one of “those” weeks, I will not feel the need to eat a big bowl of peanut butter cup ice cream for dinner. Self-care so that I don’t feel so tired and run-down next week when I go back to work. Self-care so I don’t have a headache for two days next week. Yes, I am going to be productive in a few things over the long weekend; but I’m also going to be productively unproductive in the things that matter.

I’m going to linger over my cup of coffee in the morning. I’m going to finish the book I’ve been reading, but have been too tired to open when I sit down in the evenings. I’m going to sit outside and pet the dogs. I might take an afternoon nap with the cat. I’m going to get out my guitar and sing as loud as I can and I don’t care if the neighbors hear me. I am going to get my camera out and chase a sunset or two. I’m going to soak in a bubble bath, burn a candle, and just be. Why? Because these are things that get pushed to the side during the work week. Life still moves forward without these things, so I neglect them…until I feel the need to have a big bowl of ice cream for dinner. What have you been neglecting? What are things that refuel your passion and heal your soul? Music? Crafts? A hike? Shopping? Go do something for you today.

Life, photography


Who doesn’t love a wedding? Me. I don’t go to them unless I have to. It’s not that I don’t believe in love, or marriage. I do. I just prefer not to go to weddings.

But I had to go to one last weekend because it was my nephew’s. And I said I would take pictures. It was hot. It was humid. We were racing against the clock to get photos done before it got dark. There were times I thought I might be the only one there who cared anything at all about the pictures. That’s probably not true. A wedding is like trying to drive in rush hour traffic in the biggest city you can imagine. There are so many lanes and everyone needs to go somewhere, but someone else has to go before you do, and then someone else needs to go at the same time as you. It’s total chaos. I came away from the experience knowing beyond a shadow of a doubt that I do not ever want to be a wedding photographer. Enough said.

Congratulations to the bride and groom!

gratitude, Life, Uncategorized

Tornadoes & Rainbows

tornadoes and rainbows

A little backstory on the name of the blog:

I teach preschool and work with children ages 3-5 years old. Last year one of my students drew me a picture. If you’ve ever seen the art of this age group, you know that mostly it is straight lines and some circles. You can’t tell what the picture is unless you ask. And, for future reference, it’s best to ask in this way: “Tell me about your picture.” When you ask “What did you draw?” or when you assume and say “You drew a dinosaur” when in reality they drew a picture of their mom, well, it could end badly. So say things like, “Tell me about your picture.” Just trust me on this.

On this particular day, a five year-old girl brought me a picture that she drew on a half piece of construction paper. There are linear scribbles and what looks like a squiggly line. I said, “Susie (not her real name), tell me about your picture.” She said, “It’s tornadoes and rainbows.” I said, “You drew tornadoes and rainbows.” She then launched into a story about a storm recently when she was afraid of a tornado and at the end there was a rainbow.

And then it hit me. It’s all tornadoes and rainbows. Some days the storm clouds form and we might worry. Some days there are ligit storms that we must go through. And some days are rainbows. A beautiful, colorful, peaceful rainbow.

I’ve seen many tornadoes and rainbows in my life, as I am sure that you have as well. I’ve had storms. I’ve had emotional storms, health storms, financial storms, relational storms. As a mom and preschool teacher I’ve had days that feel like I’ve walked right into the path of a tornado. As a woman I’ve faced the storm of cancer. And I’ve rainbows. Rainbows like that friend who took my kids for an afternoon so I could catch up on housework. Rainbows like a hug from a preschool friend at just the right time. Rainbows like a friend who took every Tuesday off to take me to chemotherapy appointments. Rainbows like a day-trip to a baseball game with my adult sons. Rainbows like a peaceful Saturday spent with my husband. I could go on and on, but you know what I’m talking about and can fill in your own.

That day in preschool I learned something profound. Life is all just tornadoes and rainbows. Embrace them. The tornadoes help you grow, the rainbows give you peace. Without the tornadoes, you won’t appreciate the rainbows.